Business edge through intelligence and integration

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By Ireen Catane

The world is getting smarter with the speed and evolution of technology today. According to IDC, the digital universe will be 44 times bigger in 2020 than what it was in 2009. This is equivalent to 35 zettabytes of data?.

The evolution of technology has indeed posed more challenges for enterprises instead of solutions. According to the Enterprise Systems Journal, IT complexities will double in growth every two years?.

Already, complex IT systems are bearing down on organizations, slowing down the speed of innovation, and increasing the cost of operations and maintenance significantly.

IBM?s Market Intelligence Time-To-Value Study revealed that two-thirds of companies go over schedule on their solution deployments?, which could in turn lead to increased project costs, delayed time-to-market or even financial penalties imposed by customers.

Keeping IT simple and agile is a challenge across the business world and is especially critical for service industries. Telecommunications as well as energy and utilities providers are facing the heat in rolling out consistently relevant solutions for customers.

The healthcare industry is struggling with data consolidation while the banking, government and public services sectors are trying to cope with the demands of 24×7 availability.

In addition to higher customer expectations, IT organizations in these industries are also tested by increasingly complex user requirements and varying workloads.

What enterprises need today is a solution with the flexibility to tailor deliverables to meet specific demands, quickly, easily, and intelligently.

An expert integrated system that offer the built-in expertise to address key needs while keeping costs and complexities low, over the long term.

The intelligence to be more agile

According to a study by Forrester Consulting in 2011, it can take up to four to six months just to establish hardware and software infrastructures. This is unacceptable in today?s business environment.

In highly competitive and fast-moving industries such as telecommunications, what customers look for today may quickly change in months, or even weeks.

Telcos need the capability to innovate and introduce consistently relevant products and services to meet constantly evolving customer demands.

An IT system that cannot be quickly deployed to support new price structures, dynamic billing requirements, and real-time product bundling will not flourish or even survive in the long run.

As IT becomes the strategic center of business, organizations need to extract more real value from their data, streamline business process, and customize a system that specifically suits business and customer needs.

Telecommunication CIOs, just like their counterparts in other fast-moving consumer sectors such as banking or energy and utilities, need a responsive IT system that can accelerate operational transformation to shorten ?time-to-market?, improve customer service and reduce deployment risk.

This high-level of responsiveness can only be achieved when a business is equipped with an integrated and intelligent infrastructure.

A smarter environment will deliver an unprecedented level of intelligence that empowers IT organizations to respond quickly to business innovation needs.

Apart from a high-level of responsiveness, enterprises need to customize their infrastructure for greater agility and scalability to add value.

In the energy and utilities sector, the growing need for efficient energy management has resulted in an increase in smart grid related projects.

Energy and utilities enterprises need an optimized and integrated system for smart metering and grid operations, with fast deployment and activation times for smart grid projects. This allows them to rapidly scale from pilot, to production environments.

It also allows CIOs to leverage analytics to provide insight into changing customer service expectations and operational conditions, to speed up deployment for new services.

Cloud-ready solutions, with built-in capabilities to readily host application environments, are almost indispensable for the organizations of today and are fast being adopted by companies, including those in the energy sector.

With an application-ready platform capable of supporting both single-customer and multi-tenant configurations, organizations can deploy twice as many applications and have the ability to cut lifecycle maintenance time in half.

This was evident in PCCW Solutions? new Enterprise Solutions Superstore. To cater to customer demand for easy-to-implement solutions, the system offers highly flexible and proven applications to customers on the cloud using a Software-as-a-Service model.

It is fully integrated and optimized, allowing enterprise customers to tap into cloud services tailored to their specific needs. PCCW Solutions will also be able to maximize existing server capacity, while allowing for a more flexible allocation of IT resources that can respond to fluctuating workloads.

In addition, customers can combine Web development tools in a more secure way, speeding up the design and simplifying the testing and usage of new applications and services. The expert integrated system allowed PCCW to deliver efficiency, flexibility as well as agility to cope with customer demands.

The era of big data

CIOs understand that integration is about having a unified system where performance is optimized and scalability can be achieved easily. The need for expert integration today is even more crucial than it has ever been.

The era of big data has transformed the way businesses sell their products and services. Today, businesses are sitting on valuable intelligence that can deliver greater marketing insights and hence their bottom line.

However, for big data to make sense, businesses must first be able to consolidate and aggregate data sources to extract the intelligence within. At the same time, this intelligence must be applied across all channels for it to make real impact on the customer.

This capability is crucial for sectors such as banking and retail, where customer insights can mean offering them the right products at the right time to improve sales potential.

Another important result of having systems that are expertly integrated is the ability to access critical data from anywhere and at anytime.

The increase in employee mobility today is putting demands on IT to be able to connect employees to the network more dynamically.

Additionally, enterprise mobility solutions are unleashing new capabilities for organizations, which can only be realized with the right IT infrastructure.

For example, mobility is becoming an important capability for the healthcare industry, promising greater efficiency and enhanced patient services.

While more and more countries in ASEAN continue to focus on health services as a tourism opportunity and with an increasing aging population, such an integration within a healthcare organization?s IT infrastructure leveraging expert systems, would be crucial for success.

Gaining control through simplicity

Today?s organizations also require simplicity and ease of management in their systems to cope with leaner teams and the need for a more productive workforce. The connected customers of today are also placing demands for high availability of services.

In sectors such as banking, government and public services, where 24×7 availability is key, a flexible, yet simple IT system is mandatory. IT systems must be flexible to support varying workload patterns.

To ensure high availability, automation with built-in intelligence can help IT organizations detect risks and automate failover. For example, the government sector is challenged by costly siloed, legacy IT systems with inflexible infrastructures.

These issues are hampering the need to deliver results and value through secure, private services that are available anywhere at any time. There is added pressure to implement application decisions for the lowest cost possible.

A pre-integrated system supported with built-in intelligence can help IT teams spend less time in procurement, support, testing and deployment of assets, thus enhancing workforce productivity.

Such systems are packaged and optimized at the factory, reducing the need for IT teams to deploy expert man hours to get new capabilities up and running.

Embedded with sets of patterns that automate time-consuming tasks such as configurations, deployment, and ongoing upgrades, applications that used to take days to deploy can now be rolled out in ten minutes.

Systems that are expert and integrated can work as part of the overall IT infrastructure to provide businesses with an added dimension of intelligence. It can give businesses a more defined edge over and above the pre-requisite of agility, efficiency, ease of management, and control.

Such a system acts as a foundation for true business transformation and facilitates the introduction and assimilation of new processes and applications that is needed to engage and retain customers and drive new revenue channels for success.

This is a key business advantage that will help organizations succeed in the Philippines. Growing organizations here would do well to consider an integrated IT infrastructure with built-in expertise as a basis for future success.

The author is the country executive for systems and technology group at IBM Philippines

?IDC: Worldwide Big Data Technology and Services 2012 ? 2015 and Express Computer Online
?Enterprise Systems Journal, ?5 Best Practices for Reducing IT Complexity?
?IBM Market Intelligence Time-To-Value Study, National Analysts, November 2011

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